Sonny Bill Williams
|Williams training for the All Blacks in 2010|
|Full name||Sonny William Williams|
3 August 1985 |
Auckland, New Zealand
|Height||1.94 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||108 kg (238 lb; 17 st 0 lb)|
|Position||Second-row, Lock, Centre|
|As of 27 May 2013|
Sonny William 'Sonny Bill' Williams (born 3 August 1985) is a New Zealand footballer and heavyweight boxer who has played both rugby union and rugby league. He currently plays rugby league for the Sydney Roosters in the National Rugby League (NRL). He is only the second person to represent New Zealand in rugby union after first playing for the country in rugby league. He is particularly known in both codes for his ability to offload the ball in the tackle and, formerly in rugby league, for his shoulder charges.
Williams' made his professional rugby league debut for the Canterbury Bulldogs during the 2004 NRL season. In 2008 he controversially left the Bulldogs mid-season to play rugby union with French club Toulon. In 2010 Williams signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union in an ultimately successful bid to play for the All Blacks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He played provincially for Canterbury in the 2010 ITM Cup, before being selected for the All Blacks' 2010 end of year tour. He made his Test debut against England. In Super Rugby he played for the Crusaders in 2011 and the Chiefs in 2012. Following that he and played briefly for Panasonic in the Japanese Top League before returning to rugby league after signing with the Sydney Roosters for the 2013 NRL season.
Since 2009 he has boxed professionally six times, winning all six of his heavyweight bouts. He is the current New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) Heavyweight Champion, and the current World Boxing Association (WBA) International Heavyweight Champion. He is ranked by boxing website BoxRec as the number one heavyweight in New Zealand and 99th in the world.
Williams was born on 3 August 1985, in Auckland, New Zealand, the son of John and Lee (née Woolsey). He is of Samoan descent on his father's side. He has an older brother, John Arthur, and younger twin sisters, Niall and Denise. Williams grew up in a working-class family in a state house in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert and attended Owairaka Primary School, Wesley Intermediate and Mount Albert Grammar School. As a child, he has been described as being "painfully shy" as well as "a freakish sporting talent, a competitive sprinter, a champion high jumper and cross country runner and the kid who played footy in teams a couple of age divisions above, to make things fairer." Despite being tipped to have a promising future in athletics, Williams abandoned it when he was about 12 years old. Though his father was an accomplished rugby league player, Williams has said it was his mother who introduced him to the game.
Williams was a Marist Saints junior when he was spotted playing in Auckland by Bulldogs talent scout John Ackland. In 2002 he was offered a contract and moved to Sydney (as the youngest player to ever sign with the Bulldogs) to play in the Bulldogs junior grades. He advanced up the ranks quickly, becoming a starting player in the forward pack for the Bulldogs Jersey Flegg Cup side in his first year. The following year Williams cemented a starting spot in the Premier League side.
In 2004, when only 18 years old, he made his National Rugby League debut for the Bulldogs against the Parramatta Eels at Telstra Stadium. In 2004, he was selected by New Zealand after only a handful of NRL matches and on 23 April made his debut for the Kiwis as their youngest-ever Test player in the 2004 ANZAC Test against Australia. He had previously played for the Junior Kiwis. Williams played 15 NRL premiership matches during the season, firmly establishing himself in the Bulldogs squad. He also experienced Premiership success in his rookie year and became the youngest person to play for the Bulldogs in a Grand Final when playing off the bench in the Bulldogs' 16–13 victory over the Sydney Roosters in the 2004 NRL grand final. Williams capped off a successful debut season by receiving the International Newcomer of the Year Award and being named in Rugby League World magazine's 2004 World XIII.
Williams' contract was due to expire in 2005 and he reportedly received several lucrative offers to attempt to lure him away from the Bulldogs, with the largest rumoured to be about $3 million from Super League club St Helens in the UK. Williams decided to stay with the Bulldogs and signed on for a further two years. St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus later said the club had not made an offer to him.
Williams had a shortened 2005 season after sustaining a severe knee injury plus several other minor injuries. Williams only played five games through the year and he subsequently missed several internationals for New Zealand. Williams publicly expressed his frustration, stating "You've got to be pretty strong mentally when you have injuries, and I've had a few." Williams would later dismiss claims he was injury prone as "bullshit".
Williams stayed relatively injury-free throughout the 2006 season, playing in 21 matches. He scored 8 tries and just missed out on a Grand Final berth, losing to eventual winners the Brisbane Broncos in the Preliminary Final. Despite having been mostly injury free throughout the year, off-season surgery forced him to miss the Tri-Nations for the Kiwis for the second year running. At the start of the 2007 NRL season, Williams' contract status was a frequent news item in the Australian print media. The speculation ended when Williams re-signed with the Bulldogs on 9 March 2007, with a 5-year contract believed to be worth over $2.5 million, that would have seen him stay with the club through to the 2012 season.
In the first game of the 2007 season, Williams was sent off and subsequently suspended for two weeks for a high tackle on Andrew Johns. In doing so, he became the first player of the 21st century to be sent off in a first-round game. He went on to play in 21 matches and score 14 tries during the season, as well as topping the competition for the second year in a row for most offloads. However, it did not end well as Williams broke his forearm in a tackle on Nathan Hindmarsh during the semi-final against the Parramatta Eels. His team lost the match and Williams was again ruled out from representing his country in the post-season 2007 Great Britain Tour. He was nominated for 'Second-Rower of the Year' at the 2007 Dally M Awards but lost the award to Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles second-rower Anthony Watmough.
On 13 November 2012, Williams officially confirmed he would be returning to rugby league after signing a one-year deal with the Sydney Roosters for the 2013 NRL season. However, it took over a month before his contract was officially approved and registered by the ARLC. Ironically, Williams' return coincided with the first year of the banning of the shoulder charge – a maneuver for which he has been described as the best and most famous exponent of. On 7 March, after much hype and anticipation, WIlliams made his debut for the Roosters before a record round-one crowd and television audience and scored his first try for his new club. On 1 April, Williams scored his second try in the Roosters 50–0 win over the Eels – their biggest ever victory against Parramatta and the first time they have kept their opposition scoreless in consecutive matches since 1999. On 12 April, he scored twice in his much hyped first encounter with the Bulldogs since walking out on them in 2008 – with the 38–0 result being the Roosters largest ever victory over Canterbury. On 5 May, he scored his fifth try against the Panthers. On 16 June, Williams scored his sixth try against the Warriors.
In July 2008, after linking up with new manager Khoder Nasser, Williams left Australia to join French rugby union club Toulon, citing salary cap concerns in a controversial exit. In 2005 it had been suggested that the NRL's salary cap restrictions could prove problematic for trying to keep top-grade players in rugby league. Canterbury Bulldogs club officials and players were not notified of his departure until after Williams had already left for Europe. Williams was 18 months into a five-year contract with the Bulldogs, which was resolved when Toulon paid a transfer fee of around £300,000. According to Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg, Williams was "our best player" before he "walked out". The circumstances in which he left the Bulldogs created a media debate in Australia and New Zealand, and Williams was the subject of considerable criticism for a departure that was described as the greatest act of treachery in the game's history.
Williams' highest honour with Toulon was finishing runners-up in the 2009-10 European Challenge Cup. On 6 June 2009 he played for the Barbarians in a tour match against Australia. His contract with Toulon ended in June 2010, and in 2010 Toulon reportedly tabled a three-year offer to Williams worth $6 million, while the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) could only come up with $550,000 per year. Williams rejected what was reportedly the largest ever offer in rugby union and opted to sign with the NZRU in a bid to play for the All Blacks. He chose to play with Canterbury in the ITM Cup, and the Crusaders in the Super Rugby competition.
On 3 September Williams made his Canterbury debut against Bay of Plenty, after previously playing for the Belfast Rugby Football Club in the CBS Canterbury Cup. He was named in the reserves, and 18 minutes into the game replaced second five-eight Ryan Crotty. Williams scored his first try in the ITM Cup loss to Taranaki, and followed up with tries against Wellington, Otago, and Counties Manukau. On 9 October Canterbury became the new holder of the Ranfurly Shield and on 5 November they were crowned ITM Cup Champions after defeating Waikato 33–13. On 17 October 2010 he was named in the All Black squad to tour Hong Kong and the Northern Hemisphere.
He made his highly anticipated New Zealand debut at Twickenham against England on 6 November. He started at outside centre and combined with Ma'a Nonu to form the heaviest ever All Black midfield partnership at 212 kg. In doing so, he became the first person since Karl Ifwersen in the 1920s to represent New Zealand in rugby union after first playing for New Zealand in rugby league. On 13 November 2010, in his second game for the All Blacks, Williams was awarded the man of the match for his performance against Scotland.
On 4 March Williams made his 2011 Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders against the Waratahs, scoring a try and setting up another. A week later he scored his second try in as many matches, against the ACT Brumbies. On 27 March he returned to Twickenham to play in his fourth match for the Crusaders against the Sharks, in the first Super Rugby match played outside of New Zealand, Australia or South Africa. On 9 April, in his fifth game for the Crusaders, Williams scored his 3rd try. On 23 April Williams, playing off the reserves bench against the Highlanders, experienced his first rugby defeat since his All Black debut more than five months earlier. A week later he scored his fourth try while playing against the Western Force. On 7 May Williams played his first rugby match in South Africa in the Crusaders victory over the Stormers at Newlands Stadium. On 29 May he played against the Queensland Reds in a match which set a new attendance record for an Australian Super Rugby game with 48,301 fans at Suncorp Stadium. On 25 June he scored his fifth try whilst playing against the Sharks in the first finals week of the Super Rugby competition. A week later against the Stormers in Cape Town he was part of the Crusaders team that became the first side to win a Super Rugby semifinal outside their home country since 1999. On 9 July Williams was part of the Crusaders team that lost to the Queensland Reds in the Grand Final held at Suncorp Stadium before a crowd of 52,113 – an Australian provincial attendance record. He ended the Super Rugby season with the most off-loads, was second to Quade Cooper for linebreak assists, was in the top ten for try assists, and was 13th overall for run metres; while no other centre came close to Williams's off-load and linebreak assist figures. During his time in Christchurch Williams also was present when both the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes struck.
On 30 July Williams played his first home test match during the second game of the 2011 Tri Nations Series. On 9 September he played in his first Rugby World Cup in the opening match of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. A week later he scored his first test rugby tries during New Zealand's second game, in which he played on the right wing. The match was also the first time he had played outside the centres since playing for Toulon, where he had a handful of games on the wing and in the back row. He scored his third try of the tournament against France in his second consecutive game playing on the wing. On 2 October Williams scored in a third consecutive match, whilst playing against Canada. New Zealand went on to win the 2011 Rugby World Cup, with Williams amassing a Rugby World Cup record of three tries as a substitute player.
On 25 February Williams made his 2012 Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs against the Highlanders and in early March was named as the NZRU's Teen Rugby Ambassador. On 14 April Williams scored his first try for the Chiefs while playing against the Cheetahs. On 13 May Williams scored his second try, in the Chiefs first loss after their club record of nine consecutive wins. On 2 June he scored his third try while playing against the Blues. During the mid-year rugby test series, Williams played in all three of New Zealand's matches against Ireland, scoring two tries in the last game of the series. On 6 July he scored his fourth try for the Chiefs, this time against his former Crusaders club. On 4 August Williams played in the Chiefs 37–6 victory in the Super Rugby Final against the Sharks, scoring the last try of the match then celebrating by leaping into the home crowd. With this victory, Williams became only the third person, after Peter Ryan and Brad Thorn, to have won both an NRL and Super Rugby title.
On 18 August Williams played for the All Blacks in the first match of the inaugural Rugby Championship. The following week, he ended his 2-year tenure in New Zealand rugby with a man-of-the-match performance in New Zealand's Bledisloe Cup winning 22–0 victory over Australia.
On 9 July 2012 Williams announced he would play for the Panasonic Wild Knights in the Japanese Top League during the 2012–13 season – with the allowance to have one boxing fight during the season – before returning to rugby league. He was also expected to be heavily involved in the promotion of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, since the country will be the main host of the event. The deal is thought to be the largest one-season contract in rugby union history. On 9 September, a week after sitting out the Top League season opener in order to be given time to adjust after coming off recent All Black duties, Williams made his debut for Panasonic against NTT Shining Arcs. On 22 September he scored his first try for Panasonic, whilst playing against Toshiba Brave Lupus. On 27 October Williams scored his second try during Panasonic's Round 8 victory over the Kintetsu Liners. However, the match would be his final game for the season for Panasonic after sustaining an injury when landing awkwardly on his shoulder following a tackle.
|Wins by KO||3|
After taking-up boxing, Williams has often stated that it has made him a better, much more confident and mentally tougher sportsman.
On 27 May 2009, Williams made his debut as a professional boxer, on the undercard of close friend Anthony Mundine, and defeated Garry Gurr with a Technical knockout (TKO) in the second round in Brisbane. On 30 June 2010, he defeated Ryan Hogan in a bout that ended by TKO after only two minutes and 35 seconds. Williams described the preparation for the fight as "good off-season training" for his imminent debut for the Canterbury rugby team.
Williams vs. Lewis
Williams fought in his third professional match against Australian Scott Lewis (on 29 January 2011 at the Gold Coast Convention Centre) in his first fight as the main event. Lewis' trainer Terry Devlin named his youngest son after Sonny Bill Williams, whom he calls a "superb athlete". Williams was initially scheduled to fight Lewis on 29 January at Newcastle Entertainment Centre. However, the bout was moved to the Gold Coast to cross-promote Williams's Super rugby team, the Crusaders, and their pre-season game against the Queensland Reds. Due to the 2010–2011 Queensland floods occurring at the same time as Williams's preparation for his bout against Scott Lewis, as well as his chief sparring partner Alex Leapai being stranded by the flooding in Gatton, Williams donated 200 tickets to his 29 January fight to flood victims. Williams won the six-round bout against Lewis by unanimous points decision. He was scored favourably 60–55, 60–55 and 60–54 by the three judges. A fan paid $3,890 for his autographed gloves from the bout, with the money going towards the Queensland flood relief fund.
Williams vs. Liava'a
Williams fought again on 5 June 2011, when the Crusaders had a bye week. The fight, the second of three allowed under his agreement with the NZRU, took place at Trusts Stadium, Waitakere City against Tongan Alipate Liava'a. Williams won the bout by unanimous points decision, the fight scored 60–54 in his favour by all three judges. It was promoted as a Christchurch earthquake charity fight dubbed "The Clash For Canterbury". The fight became one of the single largest fundraisers for the 2011 Christchurch earthquake appeal when Sky donated its profits from the pay-per-view sales of the fight and Williams made a $NZ100,000 donation from his share of TV sales- described as "one of the biggest individual donations by an athlete to a disaster appeal".
Williams vs. Tillman
On 8 February 2012 Williams was supposed to fight Richard Tutaki for the vacant New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) Heavyweight Championship title at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton, after Shane Cameron vacated it to move down to the cruiserweight division. However, it was revealed that Tutaki was facing serious criminal charges and so was subsequently dropped from the fight card. Williams's replacement opponent was then announced to be Auckland-based American Clarence Tillman III. The fight was dubbed the "Battle for the Belt". Williams went on to claim the title belt by Technical Knockout after a left hook and a series of further blows on Tillman forced referee Lance Revill to stop the fight in the first-round. Following the bout, Williams rejected an offer to join the boxing stable of fight promoter Don King.
Williams vs. Botha
On 24 November 2012, during the Japanese Top League's November break, Williams was due to fight South African former heavyweight contender Francois Botha at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. However, the bout was postponed to 8 February 2013, after Williams required surgery for a right pectoral muscle injury sustained whilst playing for Panasonic on 27 October. The fight was for the vacant WBA International Heavyweight title. The event also marked the boxing debut of Williams's close friend and rugby player Quade Cooper on the undercard. After dominating most rounds but on the verge of being knocked out in the last round, Williams went on to win the bout by unanimous points decision with the judges scoring 98–94, 97–91 and 97–91 in his favour. However, the victory was marred by controversy because at late notice and unbeknownst to most people, the fight was shortened to 10 rounds instead of the scheduled 12. Australian National Boxing Federation committee member John Hogg later stated the decision to cut short the bout was made shortly before the fight started with the approval of officials and both Williams's and Botha's camps, however, Botha himself was not informed of the change by his own camp.
Williams' younger sister Niall Williams is a New Zealand international touch football player and current captain of the women's team and won gold at the 2005 Youth World Cup and silver at the 2011 Touch Football World Cup. His older brother John Arthur Williams has played rugby league in both the New South Wales Cup and Queensland Cup and for the Phelan Shield premiers New Lynn Stags in the 2011 Auckland Rugby League season. He is the cousin of brothers Henry and Marcus Perenara, who are former professional rugby league players, and is also the cousin of rugby union player and former Chiefs teammate Tim Nanai-Williams.
According to Greg Bearup, Williams's "one indulgence is beautiful clothes, and when he's finished with sport he'd like to design his own range, "with sizes that fit boys like me"." Despite being born in New Zealand, Williams is also a citizen of Samoa.
Williams converted to Islam in 2008, and is the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks. Prior to converting to Islam, he was involved in several alcohol related incidents, including a low-range drink driving conviction, being caught in a compromising position with Australian model and ironwoman Candice Falzon, and being given an infringement notice and fine for public urination.
|6 Wins (3 knockouts), 0 Losses, 0 Draws|
|Win||6–0||Francois Botha||UD||10 (10)||2013-02-08||Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Queensland||Won vacant WBA International Heavyweight title|
|Win||5–0||Clarence Tillman III||TKO||1 (10), 2:58||2012-02-08||Claudelands Arena, Hamilton, Waikato Region||Won vacant NZPBA Heavyweight title|
|Win||4–0||Alipate Liava'a||UD||6 (6)||2011-06-05||Trusts Stadium, Waitakere City, Auckland Region||Williams fought with split webbing to his left hand sustained playing against Queensland,
as well as a viral infection
|Win||3–0||Scott Lewis||UD||6 (6)||2011-01-29||Gold Coast Convention Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland||Fought with stress fracture of left fibula, diagnosed towards end of All Blacks tour of Britain in late 2010|
|Win||2–0||Ryan Hogan||TKO||1 (4), 2:35||2010-06-30||Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Queensland||Hogan's professional debut.|
|Win||1–0||Garry Gurr||TKO||2 (4), 1:22||2009-05-27||Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Queensland||Williams's and Gurr's professional debut|
- 2004: International Newcomer of the Year
- 2004: World XIII
- 2004: Samoan Sports Association Junior Sportsman of the Year
- 2005: Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards "Fave Rising Star"
- 2012: New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) Heavyweight Champion
- 2013: WBA International Heavyweight Champion
- 2004: NRL winner with the Bulldogs
- 2010: Ranfurly Shield winner with Canterbury
- 2010: ITM Cup winner with Canterbury
- 2011: Rugby World Cup winner with New Zealand
- 2012: Super Rugby winner with the Chiefs
- 2012: Bledisloe Cup winner with New Zealand
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- Samoan Sports Association
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Sonny Bill Williams|
- Sonny Bill Williams at AllBlacks.com
- Sonny Bill Williams' NRL playing statistics
- Sonny's runner Essay on Williams' 2008 mid-season move by Sean Fagan
- League's most hated player? by Daniel Ramus
- Profile on itsrugby.co.uk
- Professional boxing record for Sonny Bill Williams from BoxRec